Nikki Haley unveils 89 examples of N Korea smuggling oil, calls for supply cutoff

14-Jul-2018 Intellasia | Washington Examiner | 6:02 AM Print This Post

China and Russia “must immediately stop” delivering oil to North Korea, US Ambassador Nikki Haley demanded this week in a report that her team filed with the United Nations Security Council.

The analysis by Haley’s team, obtained by the Washington Examiner, shows that the rogue regime has acquired more fuel in 2018 than the United Nations Security Council permits, thanks to at least 89 surreptitious transfers of fuel to North Korean vessels on the high seas.

“Ambassador Haley and [her] team submitted a report to the 1718 committee showing that the DPRK has breached the 2018 annual cap for refined petroleum products in violation of UNSCR 2397,” a UN Security Council diplomat told the Washington Examiner.

Resolution 2397, which passed in December of 2017, stipulates that North Korea can import only 500,000 barrels of oil annually. But the regime, known formally as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), has blown through that cap. North Korea’s access to “refined petroleum products” has been enhanced through dozens of illegal ship-to-ship transfers, according to US analysis contained in a report to the council.

“Our information suggests that between January 1 and May 30 of 2018, DPRK tankers have called in port in the DPRK at least 89 times likely to deliver refined petroleum products illicitly procured via [ship-to-ship] transfers,” Haley’s team wrote in the report.

That’s enough to exceed the fuel cap, even by conservative estimates. “Even if each of these tankers delivered only one third of its listed capacity, the associated volume would be above the UNSCR 2397 OP 5 annual quota of 500,000 barrels per annum,” the US analysis observes. “If fully loaded at around 90 percent laden, DPRK tankers have delivered nearly triple the 2018 quota at 1,367,628 barrels.”

Haley’s call for an end to the oil deliveries was first reported by AFP. North Korea might have exceeded its annual cap as early as February, according to the US report. The slowest delivery pace estimated would put the regime at acquiring its 500,000th barrel of oil in May.

US officials filed the report Wednesday, almost one month to the day since President Trump held an historic summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. But the path toward denuclearisation has been uncertain, at best. North Korean diplomats accused Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of displaying a “gangster-like” attitude during his latest trip to Pyongyang. North Korean officials also failed to appear on Thursday at a meeting that was expected to take place to discuss the repatriation of the remains of US troops killed during the Korean conflict.

Trump has vowed not to provide relief from international economic sanctions until North Korea takes major steps towards dismantling its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programme. Republican national security hawks worry that those sanctions will be undermined during the negotiations.

“Our goal is to keep sanctions going, keep the pressure on there… I don’t think you can be hard enough.” said Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., the Foreign Affairs subcommittee chair for the Asia-Pacific region. “But if North Korea will not follow through on some basic thingsreturning bodies from, what, 50 years ago, 60 years ago? Give me a break.”

US officials want the Security Council to “order an immediate halt to all transfers of refined petroleum products” to North Korea and “call on all member states” to increase their efforts to prevent oil smuggling via ship-to-ship transfers.

The filing sets the stage for a renewed diplomatic clash with Russia and China. “As China and Russia have reported to the UN 1718 Committee in 2018, both member states continue to sell refined petroleum products to the DPRK,” the US analysis says. “These sales and any other transfer must immediately stop since the United States believes the DPRK has breached the UNSCR 2397 refined petroleum products quota for 2018.”

China and Russia thwarted an American-led effort to impose a total oil embargo on North Korea last year. “I am concerned cutting off the oil supply to North Korea may cause damage to people in hospitals or other ordinary citizens,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the time. “We do not need to react emotionally and corner North Korea into a dead end.”

Security Council disputes often break down as Russia and the United States refuse to accept each other’s intelligence assessments. Haley’s team seemed to anticipate such a counter-argument.

“To further underscore our confidence in the data on tanker deliveries, we are also providing images that document several of these deliveries into the DPRK,” the report said.


Category: Korea

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